Where T-Birds Can Find the Best Volunteering Opportunities

Elly Keyes, Staff Member

As students transition into a new school year, many seniors find themselves scrambling to complete one government class requirement: volunteer hours. Why is this so difficult? Great volunteer opportunities are often buried under layers of fliers, and finding all the necessary information about where to go or who to contact is the first step. Volunteering happens in all different environments, from greeting patients as they enter the hospital, to reading for kids in elementary schools. Giving time and effort results in fun, meaningful experiences after finding something that is the right fit for you.

Stormont Vail, St. Francis, and clinics across the world rely on their hundreds of volunteers to perform the tasks that seem small, but are necessary for a hospital’s function. Victoria Reynolds is a senior at Shawnee Heights, and just began volunteering weekly at St. Francis last summer.

“I have to direct people where to go, and I let people know when someone is in if they’re here to see someone, direct them to the emergency room. Lots of different situations can occur,” Reynolds said.

Before beginning volunteering, Reynolds knew she wanted to work in the medical field and needed the hospital experience. She began in radiation oncology, finding it confirmed how she felt.

“I just loved seeing the patient to physician interaction, because those patients come in everyday. They just really had a connection, and the doctors, they remembered them. They connected on a personal level, and I think that brightens their day,” Reynolds said.

She and a few other young volunteers were approached by St. Francis earlier in the year about starting a new program.

“The hospital created a thing called a Medical Explorer post. They just basically gathered some of their younger volunteers and said, ‘we want to create a program to help people who may or may not know what they want to do, but have an interest in healthcare. To help them figure that out by giving hands-on activities, and the opportunity to talk with people in that field,’” Reynolds said

Reynolds also said they had a first meeting for anyone interested, on Monday, Sept. 23 at St. Francis. Meetings will continue throughout the year for those who didn’t get the opportunity to attend, but would still like information about joining.

Another way to find the best volunteer opportunities is by joining volunteer based clubs at school, such as Key Club or Amnesty Club.

We try and spread the importance of volunteering in our community,” President of Key Club, Makaila Astle, said.

Astle has been President of Key Club for two years because she enjoys the way it provides students with the opportunity to help their community.

“We go through the Berryton Kiwanis club a lot. They sponsor our club so in return we volunteer for them. We do whatever they need us to. Sometimes it’s just cleaning or setting up. We also interact with the public by serving or talking to people,” Astle said.

Though Astle enjoys all of the volunteering activities, her personal favorite is the annual pancake feed.

“I really enjoy the Kiwanis pancake feeds because they always feed you and everyone is just so much fun to be around,” Astle said. 

In addition to the pancake feed, Berrington’s Kiwanis Club helps out at several events including the Salvation Army Food Box Packing and the Kids Against Hunger 5k walk.

The club meets once a month on club days, and can be joined at any time by attending the next meeting in Mr. Lee’s room of S310.

Amnesty International is a global club which has local branches. This club focuses on human rights and efforts that can be made around Topeka. They volunteer at places such as the Topeka Rescue Mission, and the Helping Hands Humane Society. They also plan to try and help places that are in danger of closing.

We focus on people in general. Helping, talking, mentoring, and guiding. We take pride in working with people not only to help the community, but to help students have a good high school experience,” Andrea Lopez, Amnesty Club President said.

This club also meets during T-Bird time each month, and can be joined by coming to the meetings. More information can also be provided by contacting any of the club’s officers.

Beyond school programs, volunteering opportunities can be found by searching community websites. Food pantries such as Harvesters are one-time commitments of a few hours. Here you can do things such as bag fruits and vegetables or make care boxes. Harvesters is a nationwide program that operates on local levels. Once on the website, lists of upcoming events are provided and you can sign up to go individually or with a group. This is a good opportunity to help provide needs for people of the Topeka community. Let’s Help is another food pantry. This is run on a local level, and volunteering is an all-day experience. Tasks here include cooking and preparing meals, then serving them to those who come to the cafeteria for lunch. 

We try and spread the importance of volunteering in our community,” Astle said.